Naltrexone (naltrexone hydrochloride)
General information on Naltrexone
Naltrexone is a prescription drug used for treating drug and alcohol addiction. The drug works by changing the chemical composition of the brain, thus blocking the parts of the brain responsible for the feeling of pleasure after taking drugs or alcohol. Thus, in the absence of pleasure, the patient has a reduced urge for taking drugs or alcohol, hence reducing the consumption of it.
Precautions/side effects of Naltrexone
Patients allergic to naltrexone should refrain from taking this drug. Apart from that, patients with kidney disease, liver disease or a clotting disorder should take this drug only after due consultation with a doctor. The drug is also known to react with certain medications such as meperidine, dezocine, oxycodone, naloxone etc. Patients on any of these drugs should take Naltrexone only after consulting a doctor.
Naltrexone is a Category C pregnancy drug. The drug may have adverse effects on the fetus as well as the newborn. Thus, pregnant women as well as women who are breastfeeding should refrain from using this drug.
Naltrexone is also known to have certain side effects such as nervousness, irritability, pain in the muscles, troubled sleeping pattern or dry mouth. However, in certain cases, serious side effects to the drug may show up such as rashes on the skin, jaundice, hallucination, irregular heartbeat or difficulty in breathing. If any of these symptoms show up after taking the drug, a doctor should be informed immediately.
Important safety information
- Naltrexone can cause dizziness. Thus, tasks which require attention such as driving, working on heavy machinery etc. should be avoided immediately after taking the drug.
- Narcotics such as codeine, morphine etc. and alcohol should be avoided while on this drug. Consumption of alcohol or narcotics while taking Naltrexone can result in serious conditions such as coma and can even prove fatal. Medicines for treating cold which contain codeine or other narcotics should also be avoided while on Naltrexone.
- It is important to undergo counseling while taking this drug as it can have certain withdrawal symptoms which may be difficult to handle.
- Naltrexone should not be taken if narcotics have been consumed in the last 7 to 10 days.
Dosage of Naltrexone
Naltrexone is available in 50 mg tablets. It is also administered as intravenous injections. The usual initial dosage of the drug is 25 mg once daily. In most cases, it is subsequently increased to 50 mg once daily. However, the actual dosage may differ depending on the response of the patient. Injections of the drug may also be given once every month along with oral administration. The usual dosage of injection is 380 mg once every month.
Naltrexone should be taken with food and a glass full of water. Overdose of the drug should be avoided at all costs. If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as possible. However, it should not be clubbed with the next dose. Overdose of the drug can cause serious side effects such as seizures which require immediate medical attention.
Storage of Naltrexone
Naltrexone should be stored at room temperature, in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. It should be kept away from reach of children and pets at all times.